John Fay Cincinnati Enquirer
Published 4:24 p.m. UTC Sep 1, 2018
ST. LOUIS – If ever there was a time to remove Homer Bailey from the rotation, it would be now.
Rosters expand Saturday. The Cincinnati Reds could take Bailey out and replace him with Tyler Mahle or Lucas Sims. Both are pitching well in Triple-A.
There are many ways to describe the way Bailey is pitching, but “well” is not a word you’d use. Bailey went five innings and allowed seven runs (three earned) in the Reds’ 12-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals before a crowd of 42,365 at Busch Stadium. It was the Reds’ seventh loss in eight games.
Bailey is 1-13. He’s taken the loss in each of his last six starts. The Reds are 1-18 in games he starts.
It’s hard to imagine that he’ll be part of the rotation when the Reds return to respectability. Mahle is 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA since being sent to Louisville. Sims, obtained in the Adam Duvall trade with Atlanta, is 4-5 with a 3.11 ERA in Triple-A. He has 115 strikeouts and 39 walks in 101 ⅓ innings.
It sounds like Bailey is not in danger of losing his spot.
“He’s come back from injury,” Reds manager Jim Riggleman said. “He’s getting closer and closer to what he can be. As he goes through it, he’s not getting away with anything. Hitters are all over his stuff. He’s pitched into bad luck.
“He’s had a combination of back luck and hitters hitting his mistakes.”
The Reds took a 2-0 lead in the first. Jose Peraza, Joey Votto, Eugenio Suárez and Scooter Gennett strung together four straight one-out singles.
Bailey pitched a scoreless first. He ran into some bad luck in the second and into one batter. Paul DeJong reached on Suárez’s error with one out. Harrison Bader hit into a fielder’s choice.
Two outs, No. 8 and 9 due up. Yaro Munoz singled. Then pitcher Austin Gomber hit one to center field that Billy Hamilton clearly misjudged. But the time he realized it, even his speed was not enough to get to the ball. He made a leap, but the ball got over his glove for a two-run double.
That brought up Matt Carpenter, the National League leader in home runs. He went from 34 to 35 when Bailey left a 92-mph fastball belt-high on the inner half. Carpenter hit it well out to right.
None of the runs was earned, but it still was a 4-2 game.
“I maybe got too passive with my approach there,” Bailey said. “I tried to be a little too good. That team’s really hot now. They’re going to make you pay for your starts.”
Bailey ran into more trouble in the third. This time, it was all on him. Jose Martinez and Matt Adams led off with singles. An out later, DeJong hit one out to left for his 13th of the year. It was the 23rd home run has allowed in 19 starts.
Three pitches ruined Bailey’s outing. Were they misses?
“The one to the pitcher hit was a spot we hit,” Bailey said. “He hit it. Carpenter, a big miss. The other home run we missed by a little bit. We probably have to be more diligent on getting it in on the plate.”
Gomber, a 24-year-old rookie left-hander, allowed the leadoff man to reach in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth but escaped each time.
Matt Wisler, the 25-year-old right-hander, called up earlier in the day, took over for Bailey and threw two scoreless innings.
But the Reds made a game of it late – ever so briefly. Scott Schebler hit a two-run home run in the eighth off Brett Cecil.
The Reds loaded the bases after the homer. Tucker Barnhart walked. The Cardinals brought in Jordan Hicks, he of the 103-mph fastball, at that point. Pinch-hitter Mason Williams and Billy Hamilton singled. Peraza got in one run with a sacrifice fly. Votto walked to reload the bases. But Hicks got Eugenio Suárez to ground out on a 3-2 pitch.
The Cardinals got runs back and more when Jackson Stephens gave up five in the Cardinals eighth. Stephens did not finish the inning. Brandon Dixon got the final out in his second mound appearance of the year.
“Jackson Stephens gave us everything he had,” Riggleman said. “That was the third day in a row for him. We’re running into some really good lineups, and we haven’t been up to the task to hold those lineups down.”
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